Beetroot Salad

Beetroot is available from July through to January, which means that this colourful salad can be enjoyed as a side with your barbecue spread, or as a light-lunch post Christmas.

Please feel free to use either whole raw beetroot, or the vacuum packed ones from a Supermarket – I love both and it just depends on which we have bought that week.

With this recipe, I was using up leftovers so had some raw beetroot left over from a dish that I needed to roast some for, which is why I didn’t go for the pre-packaged.
If you have the same, simply wash and boil whole for about 35 mins, until soft. It is essential not to cut the beetroot as all the colour will leak out into the water whilst it is boiling!
Once cooked, remove from the water and leave to cook whilst you prepare the rest.

Ingredients (serves two):

  • 4 Beetroot
  • 1 Red onion
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1/2 Bag of rocket
  • 1/2 Bag of spinach
  • Black olives, halved and to taste

For the vinaigrette:

  • 3 tbls Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbls Olive oil
  • A couple of splashes of lemon juice (to taste)
  • 1 tsp. Wholegrain mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed, chopped & thrown in
  • Sprinkle of chilli flakes
  • Salt & pepper (to taste!)

These ingredients and their amounts may look vague, but this is a very basic (but delicious) beetroot salad for two.

The only things we suggest doing are finely slicing your beetroot & red onion – we like to use a mandolin so it is more similar to beetroot carpaccio, but a knife will do just fine.

After that, the rest is up to you. There is really no set way to teach someone how to make a salad; It’s all about tasting the dressing as you go along and sprinkling in what you feel like eating and what you have in your fridge.
What we can advise however, is to premix the salad before serving! We always make any salad in a large mixing bowl, toss in all the ingredients (however much of each we fancy), drizzle over the dressing, then give it a toss around the bowl. This way everything is evenly coated, which makes the leaves wilt naturally, and it has a natural look when it falls onto each plate.

Enjoy!

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Spring-green wraps with ‘slaw

Spring green wraps

Our spring-green wraps had it all; freshness, warmth, juiciness, spice and crunch. There was so much flavour going on that it satisfied pretty much every craving we had that evening. We wanted something super comforting but delicious, so we were struggling to think of what we could do that used up what we had, whilst being something more exciting than tex-mex tortilla wraps.
These definitely exceeded our expectations and ticked off all of the above. We rarely buy spring greens so it’s been refreshing to make a few interesting dishes out of them and they’re so, so cheap too. They’re way cheaper than kale and I’m starting to think of them as a little more versatile too…wrap ‘em, stuff ‘em, or chop them finely and add them to a stew, or steamed on top of a stir fry as a replacement to pak choi – give it a go!

For this dish however, we enjoyed them with sweet potato fries (grab the recipe here) and guacamole (grab recipe HERE).

For these wraps, you will need… (serves two):

  • 6 leaves of spring greens
  • 1 radish, finely sliced
  • 1 inch of cucumber, finely sliced
  • A large hand of rocket
  • A handful of mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 slices of aubergine, each roughly 1.5cm thick
  • Half a red pepper, then cut in half again
  • Half a green pepper, then cut in half again
  • Half a red onion, finely sliced in strips
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • Sweet chilli sauce
  • Mustard
  • Zaa’tar powder
  • Chilli powder
  • Sprinkle of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper

For the red cabbage ‘slaw:

  • Half a carrot, grated
  • A chunk of red cabbage, grated or very finely chopped
  • 1 spring onion, sliced into strips – lengthways
  • 1 red chilli

For the dressing:

  • 1 ½ tablespoons of miso paste
  • 3 tablespoons of tahini
  • A splash of water
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Before you do anything, you want to preheat your oven to around 200 degrees celcius and follow the sweet potato fries recipe and get those in the oven.
Once they are in, start chopping your mushrooms and your two slices of aubergine and make a basic marinade. To do this, mix together a splash of sweet chilli, a drop of mustard and a sprinkle of zaa’tar, nutmeg and chilli powder. Then crush and finely chop two garlic cloves and add these in. – (If you don’t have zaa’tar then don’t worry, as you can definitely make these just as tasty with whatever you have lying around in the cupboard! We recommend cumin, paprika and nutmeg). Stir the bowl to ensure all mushrooms and aubergine are evenly covered, then set this aside whilst you make your coleslaw!

Grate and finely slice all the vegetables listed for the red cabbage ‘slaw. Place into a mixing bowl and set aside whilst you make your dressing. In a glass, mug, bowl, whatever you have, mix the miso with tahini, then drizzle in some water until it is at a slightly runny consistency. Squeeze in some lemon juice, sprinkle in some salt and pepper and give it a taste! Some garlic never goes a miss, neither does some extra chilli powder, but we’ll leave that part to you.
Drizzle over your ‘slaw and mix in well! (There should be about half left, which you can then use as a sauce for the chips and wraps.)

Next your mushrooms and aubergine mix can go into the oven, along with the remaining four garlic cloves and the large slices of pepper. Of course, if you are cooking the sweet potato fries you will want to time all this accordingly – if your fries are about eight minutes from being done, put your mushroom mix and peppers in, but if not, wait for a few minutes so nothing goes cold or burns!
Place your mushroom mix and peppers onto some foil and place into the oven.

Fill a saucepan with water and bring it to the boil on the hob. Once it is boiling, place a colander so that it balances on top and spread your spring green leaves flat around the inside of the colander. Keep them here for around three minutes, until they are a much more vibrant green and are looser. Turn the heat off and check your veg and fries.
If these are done, take the fries out and place in a bowl, and also take your mushroom, aubergine and garlic cloves out. Take the leaves out of the colander and place three on each plate.

Now you are ready to start plating up your wraps! We tended to go for a bed of ‘slaw followed by some of the mushroom mix, then some fresh rocket and cucumber for extra crunch, topped with some grilled pepper and a drizzle of miso-tahini, thick layer of guac, then fold in the sides, roll and wrap.

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Vietnamise Rice Paper Rolls

Vietnamise rice paper rolls

Vietnamise rice paper rolls are so vibrant and appetising that it’s hard for them to not impress whoever you have sat around your dinner table. We love adding them to our selection when we’re doing Asian, even if we’re just cooking for ourselves. Well – especially if we’re just cooking for ourselves.
They are a simple extra, which take no time at all but complete your spread; the crunch, the colour, the freshness accompanies some noodles so well, but they aren’t too filling that they tip you over the edge when you’ve almost had sufficient.

You can purchase the papers from any Asian store you have lurking around the corner, or failing that, a very large Supermarket should stock them too. Have a look online beforehand if you don’t live in a city, to save you driving somewhere to find out they don’t sell them. They’re usually pretty cheap – ours are around £2 something for a pack containing around twenty sheets. We cut each roll into two or three, so it wouldn’t take too many to make an impressive platter for a dinner party. Why not try these as canapés when you’re next hosting an Asian feast?

The servings for this are difficult as its up to you to decide how many you think you’ll want, so we’re going to write down what we usually do for two of us for a main dish:

You will need:

  • 3 sheets of rice paper
  • 2 spring onions cut into strips
  • A good chunk of red cabbage, either grated or cut into thin strips
  • 2 inches of cucumber, cut into thin strips
  • 3 radishes
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • A handful of rocket
  • Soy sauce, sweet chilli or hoisin sauce to dip
  • Any other veg you fancy! Water chestnuts are delicious and some red onion never goes amiss
  • Water

Method:

In a large, shallow saucepan pour in some water and bring to a simmer. Once it is hot, remove from the heat and allow to cool down.

Once it is cool enough to touch, take a sheet of rice paper and place in the water for 5 seconds or so. It will collapse and become completely soft so once it has done this, take it out and place on a large plate as flat as possible. It becomes very sticky so try not to let too much of it stick together as this will make it difficult to roll and it may tear!

Now place your veg in whichever order you prefer onto one side of the rice paper. Leave an inch or so above, below and to the side of it so that you can tuck these edges over and roll! We like to stick the top and bottom together in the middle if we can, then bring over the side and start rolling until all the rice paper is compact and held together. Slice in half, choose your dipping sauce and plate up!

Ribboned & Grilled Courgette

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This side is a nice way to change up your vegetables. We enjoyed ours in a mixed-veg wrap for lunch, but it also works great as a salad, tossed with oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and served on its own or with fish or another dish of some sort. Whatever you fancy!

You will need (serves two, bearing in mind we had ours in a wrap each. Use slightly more if it will be used as the base to your dish):

  • 1 courgette
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • Salt and Pepper

Preheat your grill to around 200 degrees Celsius, then peel and ribbon your courgette whilst it heats up.
In a mixing bowl, mix the oil, paprika, chilli flakes and the salt and pepper onto the ribboned courgette so that each spice is distributed evenly. Then place into the oven and grill for roughly 8 minutes, or until the courgette is soft and has started to crisp slightly. So quick, simple and delicious!

Grilled aubergine with a miso-tahini dressing

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This is a great dish to take centre stage, or as a side; for example, with Greek, Italian, on top of a salad or at a BBQ. This is a warming dish for the winter and a light main in the summer, this tastes great in any seasons and you’ll be sure to want it all year round. It is delicately spiced, yet packed with flavour, texture and warmth and we find it has a place at any mealtime.

You will need (serves two as a main or a few to share):

  • 1 aubergine
  • A handful of coriander
  • A handful of parsley
  • Half a pomegranite
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika or chilli powder, depending on your preference

For the sauce:

  • 1 heaped tsp of miso paste
  • 4 tsp of tahini
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed or very finely chopped
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • Half a glass of water
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

Preheat your grill to 180 degrees celsius and leave this to heat up whilst you slice your aubergines.

Tip the slices of aubergine into a large mixing bowl and rub each strip with paprika, salt, pepper, lemon juice and a drizzle of oil. Keep tossing this mixture until each part is evenly covered, then transfer to a baking tray and into the oven once it is hot.

Whilst the aubergine is cooking (it should take around 12 minutes, but turn half way through), make your miso-tahini dressing by mixing all ingredients, except for the water, together. Once these are well combined, slowly add your water. You may not need the whole thing, you may not even need half, but it should be fairly runny and should be enough to drizzle over the aubergines once you have plated up! Give it a taste and see if it has enough of each ingredient, feel free to adjust to your own tastes!

Once the aubergine slices are fully cooked and starting to crisp slightly on the edges, remove from the oven and transfer to a serving dish. Roughly chop your coriander and parsley and sprinkle these on top, then drizzle over the dressing. The last thing to do is to cut your pomegranite in half and with a large metal spoon, knock out the pomegranite seeds onto the dish.
If you feel like some extra crunch, then finely sliced radishes and red onion are a great addition – both aesthetically and for your tastebuds too! Enjoy!

Simple Courgetti with an Avocado Sauce

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This dish is perfect if you fancy a light and quick lunch as well as something warm. The courgetti can either be warmed up in a pan just before you’re ready to eat, or you can serve it cold and more as a salad if you prefer maximum crunch. We wanted it somewhere in the middle so warmed it up in a pan for a couple of minutes, before removing and mixing in the sauce.

There are many variations with this dish, all dependent on what you have in your cupboard and what you’re in the mood for. You can top it the same as you would do with any pasta or noodle dish, for a lighter alternative, or you can treat it as the base to a salad. We mixed it with our avocado sauce and then topped it off with raisins, toasted walnuts, grilled artichoke hearts and grilled tomatoes, – delicious!

For the sauce, you will need (serves two):

  • Half an avocado
  • A squeeze of lemon
  • A splash of water
  • 3 cloves of garlic, roughly crushed/chopped
  • Half a green chilli, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp of dried, mixed herbs
  • Salt and pepper

For the courgetti (serves two):

  • 1 courgette
  • 1 red onion
  • A small handful of walnuts, crushed and toasted
  • A small handful of raisins
  • 4 grilled cherry tomatoes
  • A whole artichoke heart, cut into quarters and grilled (we go for the ones that are in a jar, rather than fresh)
  • A couple of handfuls of rocket or other fresh leaves
  • 4 whole garlic cloves, grilled

Method:

Start by turning the grill onto 180 degrees celsius and place your tomatoes, artichoke hearts and whole garlic cloves under it in an ovenproof dish.

You then want to prep the rest of your veg so that once the sauce is completed everything is pretty much ready to go. Spiralize your courgette, slice the onion finely and set these aside (if you don’t have a spiralizer then either grate it to a rice-like consistency, or cut it into fine and thin strips. Even slicing the courgette into discs will still be delicious!).

Next, crush your walnuts and toast in a frying pan for about 2 minutes, tossing the pan every now and then. Once these have coloured on each side and a nutty aroma has filled the air then turn off the hob and start your sauce.

Place all the ingredients for the sauce together and blend until it is a smooth consistency. Feel free to add a little more lemon or a few more herbs once you have tasted it as really depends on what you fancy!

Lightly warm up your courgetti and onion in a pan for about 2 minutes, or longer if you prefer it softer. Once it is how you like it, remove from the heat and tip into a mixing bowl with the avocado sauce. Mix both together well, tossing in your raisins and divide onto separate plates.
Sprinkle on your fresh leaves and remove the grilled veg from the other. Divide these into two and place them onto the plates, sprinkle on your nuts and an extra sprinkle of pepper and you’re ready to go!

Cumin Grilled Squid with a Curried Butternut Squash Puree and “cheat’s” Mango Salsa

We felt like the strong, fragrant flavours that your favourite curries produce, but we also felt like something light. This dish is bursting with flavour and texture, as well as being incredibly aesthetically pleasing; it looks great when you plate it up so make it to impress a special someone or even just as a treat for yourself. Either way this is a simple, relatively cheap, healthy and, most importantly, delicious way to provide all those curry cravings without the Delhi-belly after..!

You will need… (serves two):

For the Squid:

  • 1 squid
  • 2 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 clove garlic (crushed)
  • a small handful of coriander (finely chopped)
  • juice of half a lime
  • 2 tsp dried chilli flakes

For the Sweet Potato Puree:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • a drop of almond milk
  • 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • a small handful of coriander (finely chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/4 inch fresh ginger (finely chopped)

For the Mango Salsa

  • a small handful of coriander (finely chopped)
  • 2 tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1 inch cucumber (chopped into chunks)
  • 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp mango chutney
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)

First you want to put the sweet potatoes on to cook, simply rub them in a bit of oil and salt and place them in the oven for about an hour at 180 degrees until they feel soft in the middle. When they feel soft place them on the side to cool.
Whilst the sweet potatoes are cooking prepare your squid. You may have bought pre-prepared squid, you may have bought rings, just the tentacles or the whole thing, really it’s up to you and your wallet! We like to buy the whole squid when we can but we’ve found 4 squid “tubes” at the Chinese supermarket for £1.99 and they work just as well. For those of you who buy the whole thing, bones and eyeball included, the best advice we can offer is to youtube how to prepare it. Honestly, it’s easy, harmless and makes you feel kinda cool, gutting your own squid.

Whether you gutted it yourself or not, make sure you pat it dry and then gently score the squid in a criss-cross shape. Next, mix all the ingredients for the marinade and rub it into both sides of the squid and set aside for 30 minutes or so.

Next, gently fry all the remaining ingredients of your puree, except for the almond milk and coriander. When this is done, scrape out the middle of the sweet potato and mix with the ingredients that you’ve just fried. Whether you blend, pulse or mash, the next thing is to break down the sweet potato and mix it with all the other ingredients. You may want your potato to be chunkier, you may want it to be super smooth, the almond milk gives a lovely nutty taste, but the more you put in the wetter your puree will be so only add as much as you want. You can set it aside to be re-heated at the last minute.

The salsa is the easiest part – it can be made way ahead of time and left in the fridge or if you’re on top of your timings (we often aren’t!) then make it in whatever breaks you happen to have whilst everything is marinading, cooking or cooling. Simply chop up all the ingredients and mix them well. And with the salsa done…

Make sure you grill is super hot, the hotter the better. Grill the squid for roughly 30 seconds-a minute each side depending on size of squid. You can tell when they are cooked by the changing of the colour of the squid from a sort of transparent white to a fuller white colour.
Whilst they’re cooking re-heat you sweet potato, it shouldn’t have cooled too much, and you’ll want to let your squid rest for just a moment before plating anyway. We had some goji berries lying around and they were great as a garnish – raisins are also wonderful sprinkled on top. As always – plate up, eat up and enjoy!

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Thai Style Raw Salad

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This is a simple, versatile and delicious way to use up any vegetables you have lying around. We spiralized our courgette to give it a noodley texture, which complimented those of the grated carrot, chopped veg and crunchy toasted cashews. We topped it off with a delicious and incredibly simple dressing, which consisted of soy sauce and sweet chilli dip.

Ingredients (serves 2 for a light lunch):

  • 1 Carrot (grated)
  • 1 Courgette (preferably spiralized but grated or cut into thin strips will do)
  • Half a Red Pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 2 Inches of Cucumber (sliced into thin half moons)
  • 1 Spring Onion (thin strips)
  • A Handful of Cashews (crushed and toasted)
  • A Large Handful of Coriander (roughly chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp of Sesame Seeds (toasted)
  • Half a Lime (cut into two quarters)

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 Cup of Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup of Sweet Chilli

As we said, this dish, as with many salads is a great way to use up whatever veg you have lying around or what needs to be used up. The measurements of each ingredient are just a guideline, but feel free to change the quantities, and indeed the ingredients, depending on what you have in your fridge, pantry or cupboard! I’m sure that if we had two spring onions lying limp in our fridge when we made this then both would have gone into this dish.

The method is pretty simple therefore, simply chop, grate or spiralize, as instructed next to each ingredient, throw them in a bowl, drizzle on your dressing and squeeze a lime over the top. It really is that simple and can be eaten at the table, desk or from a Tupperware – the only thing left to do is to enjoy.

Tacones

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This super easy twist on a taco is incredibly versatile and can be used to serve as a canapé, a sandwich alternative, or a bouquet of your favourite foods.

You can vary the size depending on the size of wrap you use, which means its perfect for any situation or event. For this particular tacone, we filled it with a salad blend consisting of kale, rocket, tomato, grated carrot soaked in soy, roasted cashews and vegan feta. Other ideas we had were a Greek themed one, with falafel, humous, olives and red onion, but hot fillings would be delicious and work just as well.

All you need (for two people) is one soft tortilla wrap and 2 aluminium balls. The wrap can be any size and any flour, depending on personal preference!

Here’s how you make your tacone:

First, take your wrap and cut it in half.

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Twist it into a cone shape, putting an aluminium ball at the bottom of each cone, as showed below:

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Place these into a preheated oven of 180 degrees celsius for 20 minutes, or until crisp, turning once halfway through.
They should come out looking something like this:

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Fill each tacone with your chosen filling.

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Enjoy!

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Grilled Romaine Salad with Avocado-Lime Dressing

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Whoever said ‘you don’t make friends with salad’ was lying!
This recipe is perfect for a light lunch because lunchtimes definitely don’t need to be boring. It took us about 15 minutes in total, to prep and cook, so even if you’re in a rush, this is definitely worth taking the time to make.

As with any salad, the toppings are a blend of what you have lying around and what you feel like, so don’t be afraid to switch any of the ingredients listed below.

The ingredients we used (serves 2): 

  • 1 romaine lettuce
  • 2 big tomatoes (sliced and diced)
  • 4 whole cherry tomatoes
  • a sprinkling of feta
  • a handful of raisins
  • half a red onion (thinly sliced)
  • 2 tbsp canned tuna
  • a handful of pine nuts
  • a handful of fresh coriander

For the dressing:

  • half an avocado
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1 tsp fresh corriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • a dash of water
  • salt & pepper

For the dressing simply put all the ingredients into a food processor or bowl and blend until smooth. We recommend only using a little water at a time until you get the silky consistency you want.

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Turn on your grill to a high heat, in the summer you can do this on top of a BBQ! Whilst it’s heating up chop all your veg. For the lettuces simply slice them in half and place them on the grill until the leaves are slightly blackened and crispy, then turn and grill for a few minutes more. Place the cherry tomatoes on the grill and let them blacken slightly too until they’re juicy and ready to burst. Lightly toast the pine nuts in a pan, with a little salt until just brown.

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Once the lettuce is nice and grilled place it on your plate and arrange the salad how you like. At first we lay the sliced tomatoes and onions on top of each half and then layered coriander, feta, tuna, pine nuts and raisins, topping with the grilled cherry tomatoes before drizzling the dressing over the whole thing.

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